In the Old Testament, God talks about the days when His Spirit would be poured out on all people. This promise begin coming true at Jesus’ baptism and through His ministry and was to be continued in the ministering of the Church. Throughout this series on the Holy Spirit, we are looking at the example of Christ as a way of knowing how the Holy Spirit can/should be working in our lives. However, it is easy for us to look at the evidence of miracles or the large crowds following Jesus as the main proof of the Holy Spirit in his life, but that isn’t necessarily the best method of measuring the working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has another, more important job than just performing miracles, and that is the transforming of hearts from hearts of stone to hearts of flesh that beat for God (see Ezekiel 36:26). In this article, we will look at some of the ways that the Holy Spirit was working on the spiritual level as well as the physical level during Jesus’ ministry. According to Isaiah 61:1, the Holy Spirit wanted Jesus to…
To Proclaim Good News To The Poor… There are very few miracles dealing directly with money, the only one I can think of is the one where Peter needed to pay taxes and Jesus told him to go fishing (literally). Other times, Jesus was able to create to meet physical needs, such as feeding the 5,000 or the catching of the large amounts of fish. These miracles, while not providing money, did take care of the needs of the poor people. Yet, free money and food was NOT the gospel that Jesus was proclaiming to the poor people.
Jesus preached that the ‘poor in spirit’ will inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:3), while the Bible clearly says that the Good News (or Gospel) that Jesus was preaching was “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news (Mark 1:15).” The same kingdom that those who were seeking for God would inherit was about to be established, and it was time for them to repent and believe! I believe this is the same type of ‘poor’ that is used in this passage – “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me (Psalm 40:17).” This is not a money issue, but a desperate, spiritual need for God. The Holy Spirit was actively calling to see that they were dependent on God and that they needed to repent and believe in what Jesus was preaching on.
To Heal The Brokenhearted… When someone says they have have a broken heart, they are usually talking about emotional pain. Relationships happen on the emotional plane, so Jesus wanted to reach us where we truly are broken. Jesus was all about healing people’s hearts, because God wants to connect with us emotionally, He wants to have a relationship with us. One verse that describes this is Psalm 34:18, where it says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” We also know that one of the reasons we are looking forward to heaven is because God will “wipe away every tear and and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore (Rev 21:3-4).”
The biggest miracles we see from Jesus had to do with healing people emotionally. These are the miracles that dealt with death (i.e. – the widow’s son and Lazarus). Healing a person who is sick or dying is one thing, but to heal a person’s spirit is what Jesus was truly wanting to do. Notice this verse in 1 Peter 2:24, where it says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Here, Peter has connected our salvation with our healing, which means that salvation can also be explained as a spiritual healing.
To Preach Deliverance To Captives… Remember a captive is someone who was held against their will, taken from their homeland to be a slave or as a prize of war. To me, this is the best and most accurate description of what has happened to humans – we were, in one sense, taken against our will, but we are also slaves to sin or even worse – a prize or conquest for the enemy. This promise of being delivered from those who oppressed them was the promise that the Jews were waiting on the Messiah to fulfill, because they were under the strong rule of the Romans and all they wanted was to see their oppressors overthrown. And, yet, their hope died when Jesus was executed on the cross under the title of ‘King of the Jews.’ However, they completely missed that one guy, a thief who was crucified at the same time as Jesus, received deliverance as he was being executed for his crimes. Jesus was delivering this ‘captive’ from the jail cell of sin and separation from God.
Another definition of this is deliverance from your past/reputation or from what people think. For example, in John 8:1-11, Jesus was presented with a woman who was said to be a harlot, but Jesus did not condemn her or tell her to be stoned. Instead, He treated her with respect that allowed her to find her dignity again. Jesus refused to know her by her reputation or to hear what the others said, he only cared that she was willing to be led out of the captivity she was in. It’s true, God NEVER refuses to take a person out of spiritual captivity, if they will just believe. In 1 Kings 8, God says that if people who were lead astray and then held captive by the enemy would just cry out to God for help, then God would lead them into freedom and restore/bless them as they had been before they were lead away as captives. This is what salvation is all about – the Holy Spirit will do what it takes to free us from captivity and lead us into liberty.
To Recover Sight To The Blind… This calling goes right along with leading captives into freedom, but it goes a step further. The Holy Spirit is healing us to who we were before we were taken captive.God doesn’t just want us to be rescued, He wants us to be restored to our ‘former glory.’ Personally, I love that part of Jesus’ calling from the Holy Spirit is restoration! I love restoration, it is mentioned over 80 times in the Bible. Here is one of the verses that God promises restoration, “‘For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal,’ declares the Lord (Jer. 30:17).” Check out this promise from Zechariah, where God says, “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.”
Jesus did many miracles with restoring sight, one such miracle is recorded in John 9, where He heals a many who was blind from birth. Actually, out of the 37 different recorded miracles in the Gospels, 6 of them were specifically about restoring sight to the blind. God uses the miracles of physical sight to show what He wants to do to our spiritual sight. In 2 Cor 4:3-6, Paul says that people who are not accepting Jesus are spiritually blind- “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ… For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” This is the #1 role of the Holy Spirit in human’s lives – to bring us to spiritually healing, so that our spiritual eyesight is restored and we are able to see clearly God’s love and plan of redemption for us.
To Set At Liberty The Bruised… This one confused me when I first read it, because I always remember it as, ‘liberty to captives,’ but it clearly says ‘liberty to the bruised’ in Luke 4: 18. This last assignment from the Holy Spirit is about the little things in our lives, hurts that only create a bruise, not ones that cause us to be captives or brokenhearted or blinded. Why would a person who is bruised need to be set at liberty? Because sometimes a bruise can cripple us, and we need someone to tell us we are okay. For example, one time I was walking through the kitchen and bumped into the wall (I really can’t remember why I tripped), which caused a decorative plate to fall of the wall and break… on the top of my foot! And, then, while I was doing the pain dance, I also twisted my ankle. Traumatizing? Yep! Bruised? YES, horrendously so. Broken? Actually, no even though it took a while to heal, the x-rays should I was just bruised and twisted. I needed to be set at liberty with the truth of the pain I was in.
Jesus did not take of the bruises with miracles, but He spiritually heal their bruises by taking care of the people. Emotional/spiritual bruises need to be healed by being with people and showing them that you care. Jesus spent a lot of time just talking and listening to people’s needs as the crowds surrounded Him. He heard their pain in the situation as much as He saw a need to physically heal them. Another thing we can do for bruises is to tell the truth about a situation. I am not saying to be mean or harsh, I am saying to simply remind them of what the x-rays say – it’s only a bruise, you may limp for a while, but it WILL heal. The Holy Spirit is concerned with our spiritual bruises, because if they aren’t taken care of, they can really trip us up and make us give up God, our calling or even our growth.
In closing, I want to remind you that our focus here is to apply how the Holy Spirit was active and moving in Jesus’ life to our day to day Christianity. Many times, I have heard other Christians bemoaning the fact that we never see the Holy Spirit working, we don’t see miracles or see people’s life change. Twice, Jesus said that He would give the Holy Spirit to anyone who was thirsty, and the flowing of God’s work would be as a river to dry lands (see John 7:37-39 and Revelation 21:6). One of the major reasons the Holy Spirit is inhibited from ‘flowing as a river’ in our lives is because we are not thirsty for the Holy Spirit’s spiritual changes. It is as if we want to have a huge following and all the miracles Jesus had, but we forget what Jesus was really doing. He was allowing the Holy Spirit to change people spiritually through His work, and that is our calling also. I pray that your heart yearns to follow Jesus in ministering through the Holy Spirit’s work. I pray that this week, the Holy Spirit is unhindered in His work for us and through us. I pray that you are able to see your ministry as so much more than numbers, but that you see the impact that you are having for God.